The New York Jets will be flying high as the stars of this season of Hard Knocks, despite the franchise’s attempts to stay under the radar. The NFL will reportedly go against the wishes of Head Coach Robert Saleh and new quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as they’re greenlighting this year’s show to feature the Gang Green.
"Media intensity New York? Check. Really tough division? Check. Brutal early schedule? Check."
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) June 27, 2023
Make no mistake, the NFL does have a formula for choosing teams in order to keep the show fresh and also not too much burden on any one team. However, The League did make overtures to the Lions – the centerpiece of the 2022 season – to possibly return for an encore performance. That offer was quickly rejected by the team.
Essentially, it’s like this: NFL teams can be compelled to take part in the show, with a handful of exceptions. Those can include having a new head coach, not making the playoffs in either of the two previous seasons, or not having been the subject of the show for the last ten years.
Because of the way things have played out heading into 2023, only the Jets, Saints, Bears, and Commanders fit the criteria for being required to do the show this preseason. Of that group, only Washington is reportedly the only team that openly volunteered to be the focal point of the program. Although those same reports say the NFL prefers to wait until after the sale of the Commanders franchise is finalized.
For New York, 2023 has a little different narrative than many of the teams that have taken their turn on Hard Knocks in the past. Most of the time, the series has reflected on the rise of a potential playoff power, or a franchise that’s been down and out, making its comeback.
And while the Jets fit both of those storylines, it’s become an almost ‘Super Bowl or Bust” situation with a new franchise player who just happens to be turning 40. There is a very small window for success, and time is ticking on a title. So, having cameras there might be a distraction. And with hopes high on Broadway, Coach Saleh and his squad don’t want anything around that might upset the (Big) Apple cart.
Unfortunately for the Jets, Rodgers’ presence has also made them one of the most talked about and polarizing squads in all of pro football. So, they can be cast by the narrative as a dashing hero, and a treacherous villain – depending on who you’re rooting for in the end.
Perhaps it’s the apprehensive attitude of the team that the NFL decided they might be the best fit for the show. There have been rumblings from fans that Hard Knocks has been on the decline for years, so it would make for a pretty compelling way to rejuvenate the show. The dynamic of Eccentric Aaron and The Jets not being comfortable with the crew being there, coupled with the burning hot expectations waiting for them in New York, could end up producing some very real MUST-SEE-TV.